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The Chicken Walked Here

Posted by Renee Friday, August 28, 2009

Notes from the Salt Lake Family History Expo, Day 1

I occasionally read Beowulf in Old English. Out loud. For fun.

So when I saw The Chicken Walked Here: Principles & Procedures for Learning to Read Germanic & Scandinavian Gothic Script listed in the Salt Lake Family History Expo syllabus, I did a little happy dance. It spoke both to my Prussian roots and my Jeopardy gene.

This class was taught by Ruth Ellen Maness, AG, Senior Research Consultant, Scandinavian Reference at the LDS Family History Library, and quintessential expert on the subject. Ruth describes the principles driving the understanding of Gothic Script thus:

  1. You learn to read Gothic Script by reading it.
  2. You learn to read Gothic Script by writing it.
Deciphering Gothic Script (like reading Old English) takes practice and passionate dedication. But it's worth it, because there will come a moment when you realize that you are reading it, really reading it - fluently and effortlessly. The moment of “ah-ha.”

I love a good “ah-ha” moment, don’t you?

Here are few tidbits I from Ruth's class:

  • Use of the Gothic Script writing style, used primarily in the German and Scandinavian states, began in the 900’s, and continued well into the 1940's, when Adolf Hitler is credited with instituting a state enforced ban on its use.
  • Fun with Gothic Script...e's look like n's. K's look like R's. h's can look like f's. Q's & K's are interchangeable.
  • More fun: S's differ in shape and size based on their position in word – beginning, middle, or end - but are not mutually exclusive.

(Take that, Alex Trebek!

That barely scratches the surface: Ruth thoroughly outlines her principles and procedures in 15 well-organized pages of notes, available on the Expo syllabus.

Speaking of the syllabus, I second the endorsement my fellow "Blogger of Honor" Gena Ortega made in her blog: if were you were unable to attend the Expo, I urge you to consider purchasing one. Expo syllabus is a treasure chest brimming with 400 pages of handouts and relevant information about each class, it also includes links to additional resources and expert advice by all the amazing speakers. You can purchase the syllabus online at Family History Expos.

Be sure to check out Gena's Genealogy for more on the Expo, Day 1.

Coming soon:
"Why I Need GOOGLE Voice Yesterday"

In the days (and probably weeks) to follow, I will be highlighting both the people and the lessons of the Salt Lake Expo, so stay tuned.

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